By Abbie Gallagher
My initial reaction when I entered KXT’s PopUpstairs theatre on Monday night was that I’d walked straight into Studio 54. With tinsel, mandatory party hats for the audience and music you’d likely hear in Saturday Night Fever, the light-hearted atmosphere was undeniable and intriguing.
NIDA graduates Toby Blome and Zelman Cressley-Gladwin as Rudy and Cuthbert respectively began developing this work while completing their studies. This longstanding and continual development is clear, and it has definitely paid off. Think Lano and Woodley meets the Umbilical Brothers mixed with Mr Bean,and you have Rudy and Cuthbert.
The titular characters are two (mostly) silent clowns. You can count the number of spoken words on one hand. Rudy and Cuthbert are on a mission to create a party for everyone to enjoy, but to say they are slightly inept at this would be an understatement. It’s a simple premise, helped along with props and lists sourced from the internet (10 Ways to Set Up a Great Party, 6 Signs of a Bad Party etc).
While I don’t envy the person tasked with cleaning the floor and carpet afterwards, I greatly enjoyed this show. Mime is something I have not seen in a long time, and this is an excellent use of the style. Make no mistake, this is old school clowning and it’s very refreshing. There’s the tried-and-true trope of the straight man, which is definitely Cuthbert, dominating and occasionally knocking the shy, adorable Rudy around. But their friendship is in no doubt, nor is there any resorting to lowbrow humour here. It’s good, clean fun. Also, even though Rudy and Cuthbert barely speak, you know exactly who these characters are and in a strange way, you want them to succeed. When their feeble attempts to make punch, create a playlist or set up fairy lights work out, you feel proud of them. The two performers never waver in their conviction or energy and truth be told, their comic timing and facial expressions are priceless. Virtually everything they did made the audience laugh, and made them laugh hard. Both actors had their share of moments to shine, and they work off each other very well. One can only imagine how many hours of rehearsal required to get the stunts and timing down to the often split-second requirement.
Rudy and Cutherbert 2 is, at the core, a sweet exploration of friendship and creating something out of nothing. And everyone in the space was very happy to come along for the ride. Even me and my notebook didn't escape the lure of audience interaction and I didn't want to. I would have no hesitation watching anything these two fine actors cooked up again. In fact, my only regret is that I wasn’t able to bring anyone along with me due to the time.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.